If you detest New Year’s resolutions or if you are confidently in control of your finances, this post is not for you at all.
However, even if you detest those resolutions, but might have some interest in how to stretch your income further in 2015 and beyond, then read on if you like.
During many years of interacting with clients and their pets (or even farm animals ), I noticed some people had control and some did not. Those who understood who should be in control generally had the happiest and healthiest pets. And those pets made me happier, too, because they rarely growled, bit, scratched, pooped or threatened to ruin my day.
Personal finances are similar. At least I think so. Again, those who understand who should be in control generally have the happiest and healthiest financial statements. And, taking control reduces the likelihood of hearing a debt collector growl over the phone, or getting bitten by late fees and scratching your head late at night wondering where the money went so fast. Or developing a stinky attitude toward friends who seem to have it all figured out, and experiencing that sickening feeling that the credit card companies stand squarely between you and your dreams.
“…the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Proverbs 22:7b
“Know well the condition of your flocks,
and give attention to your herds,
for riches do not last forever;
and does a crown endure to all generations.” Proverbs 27:23-24
Yes, there are situations where going into debt is a wise decision. But, that’s a subject for another post. The goal of today’s post is to look at some very basic financial tools almost every family has that can help you take control and head toward financial security.
Financial Tool # 1
Your spouse is your most valuable asset. You have a rare marriage indeed if the two of you share identical approaches to money management. I’d bet my fishing boat that no married couple on Earth consists of two people with more polar opposite attitudes about spending money than Connie and yours truly. But, after soon-to-be 44 years, and a far from perfected agreement, we are still happily married and not living on the street.
OK, I’ll admit, I was the one who had to learn this lesson. In the beginning I bought into the theory that the husband should control the financial reins. By divine providence, one Saturday afternoon in a Books-a-Million store, I stumbled upon a book that opened my eyes to what a fool I had been. While reading that book, I realized my attitude was like cutting myself in half. I even found that one head plus one head equals more that two heads!
Financial Tool # 2
Keep the main thing the main thing. Your marriage is far more important than material possessions. Ambition is a wonderful characteristic. It’s healthy to want to become all you can be with what God has given you to work with in this life.
Let’s go back to the pet analogy. I’ve seen Teacup Poodles take control of their owners and cause as many problems as a huge Pit Bull. But, the basic rules of training and control are pretty much the same in both instances. With personal finances, some issues are a lot like a tiny two-pound dog and yet have the capacity to set off a third world war in a marriage. Don’t believe me? Try bringing up how upset you are that your wife spends too much on shoes. And, bring it up in the car on the way to church on a Sunday morning. Let me know how that goes for you!
Financial Tool # 3
The Bible is the most useful guide for financial freedom. Please take note that I said, “the Bible,” not a wealthy preacher with a TV program teaching heresy. There are plenty of excellent books, blogs and websites with valuable guidance for managing and growing your financial assets. Just remember to filter whatever you read or listen to through a biblical lens.
“By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches” Proverbs 24:3-4
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the Book Of Proverbs. First, it is not a book of promises. It is a written record of godly Wisdom intended to give us general directions to follow which lead to a healthy, balanced and enjoyable life. The other thing to keep in mind is to always consider the overall message of the entire Bible when seeking to understand and apply the Wisdom found in Proverbs. Verse 4 above is a good example. We know from reading passages from other Bible books that, “riches” does not refer to a fat bank account or adding a room to your house for that Teacup Poodle. Rather, it is a reference to things like peace and trust and faith that a right relationship with God brings to our lives.
What other tools would you add to this list? There’s a convenient place for your comments at the bottom of the page.